E3 Conference fuels new scholarship

Almost $30,000 raised from the conference will fund a new student scholarship.

by Alex Robinson

More than 400 business leaders, government officials and researchers attended the E3 Conference in Coffman Union’s Great Hall to trade ideas on renewable energy.

And thanks to the conference, an incoming student will be seeing green in more ways than one.

This year, the E3 conference charged admission and the proceeds will fund a scholarship for an incoming student interested in renewable energy and the environment.

The conference raked in about $30,000, and the scholarship will probably start during the 2008 fall semester, Institute on the Environment spokesman Todd Reubold said.

He also said while the details of the scholarship haven’t been figured out yet, he would like to see the winner do an undergraduate research project.

“It would be exciting if the student came to us with a new project that they were proposing,” Reubold said. “We look at it as new opportunity for someone who has a passion to work in this field for a career.”

He said the idea for a renewable energy scholarship has made the Institute on the Environment more noticeable to some sponsors.

“The idea of a scholarship fund has really helped attract some wonderful sponsors that otherwise might not have gotten involved,” Reubold said.

Dick Hemmingsen, director of the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, said organizers hope to continue the scholarship in the future.

IREE, a partner of the Institute on the Environment, was interested in giving students more opportunities to do research in renewable energy, Hemmingsen said.

“Society in general is increasingly interested in issues that relate to the environment,” he said. “Clearly we’ve got a good deal of interest in the students that are already here, but we also wanted to develop this as a mechanism to attract more students.”

Animal science and agricultural education junior Lucas Sjostrom said he believes the University already has a pretty large group of students who are interested in renewable energy.

“I think, for the most part, Minnesotans are well aware of where we are at and where we are going as far as renewable energies,” he said.

Sjostrom was awarded a scholarship from the Renewable Fuels Association, through which he was able to do an internship in Washington, D.C.

Without the scholarship, Sjostrom said he might not have been able to afford that internship, and a lot of other students are probably in the same position.

“If students knew the U had this much money set aside for renewable fuels, you would see a lot more people shifting their education towards it.”

Corporate environmental management sophomore Anna Sturdevant said she would like to see more undergraduate students on environmental and renewable energy tracks.

She is in a renewable fuels class that only has seven students.

“(A scholarship is) a good incentive to get kids thinking that they can study this and then in the future help companies go green,” Sturdevant said.